My school teaching highlight last week was the two music lessons which I delivered to my primary 6 class. I am not musical and will admit that there were children in the class that understand musical terms and techniques better than me. These are children who benefit from the council music tuition programme. Today we will talk about these lessons and later this week we will explore why music education is tricky for teachers yet vitally important.
As I said, I am not musical. Despite over a decade in the classroom, I still lack confidence in teaching music. When we lack confidence we reach for our comforts. For me, that is outdoor learning. Whilst these lessons started in the classroom, we quickly got out into the playground.
The Grounds for Learning website has some great resources and lesson plans. I love their plans as they are brief, simple and adaptable. I used the Bang, Crash, Whoosh plan with a You Tube video from Stomp. (plan is – https://www.ltl.org.uk/resources/results.php?id=419 , Stomp video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ7aYQtIldg ). The video helped us explore the difference between beat and rhythm, different techniques to make music more interesting and “instruments” we could use before heading out to the playground to work in groups. The children had themselves, their school bags and the bag contents to use as instruments.
Quickly, the children began, exploring different ways they could create noise and the turn that into music. They worked as teams and communicated well. Yes, it was noisy, yes it looked a little crazy but yes, the kids were absolutely on task. They had time in groups to create their music before each group performed for the rest of the class. What started as a noise soon became music. The lesson was simple but effective and the pupil’s came back into class buzzing. They must have enjoyed it as I had the pleasure of observing them from my window at lunch continuing playing with ways to create sound and rhythms.
I had them interested, so it was time to develop the lesson. As said earlier, I am not musical in the slightest, however, I once had the opportunity to watch an amazing music teacher teach notation and could use his techniques. Each group created a simple sheet with 8 beats. Each instrument was represented by a symbol and was noted on a different line. It may have looked a little like this
We could then explore why we would want a visual representation of our piece of music. Children, who like me, do not feel talented in this area realised it could really be simple and accessible to them. They participated and worked together in a way I have rarely observed from this class.
And me? Well I left the lesson feeling I might just be able to teach music.
Look out for our blog on Thursday where we explore why music education is important.